India’s string of pearls | By Asad Ali


India’s string of pearls

The regional stability is at stake with India’s increasing military might in the region. India has been trying to strength its military muscles in order to contain China and Pakistan.

After trying to get Sri Lankan and Bhutan’s support to accomplish strategic objectives, India is now working tirelessly for Maldives strategic support.

The tiny island nation Maldives is strategically very important for both China and India as it possesses some strategically routes.

In lieu of the growing strategic competition in the region, India has decided to land its ground forces in Nepal.

Interestingly, incumbent pro-India government of Maldives under PM Sher Bahadur Deuba, has given green signal to Indian proposal.

If this Indian proposal materializes, this will create arms race and strategic competition in the region.

It will also have severe implications for regional peace. In greater context, deployment of ground forces in another sovereign country is clear cut violation of international treaties, conventions and territorial laws.

Unfortunately, India is doing so openly for strategic competition, which is putting regional peace in jeopardy.

Only few people in Maldives’ government are supporting this move. On the other hand, majority of the lawmakers and people have announced to protest against Indian move.

Even former Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli of Maldives has recently announced to protest against the Bhutan government’s decision to give free hand to Indian Army.

In addition, former Nepali President Abdullah Yameen has also announced his political come back and resentment against threats emanating from Indian side.

He is working with other political parties to reduce growing Indian influence in the country.

The activism of two former top politicians in domestic politics and statements against Indian offensive posture has also created chaos within hawkish Indian establishment circles.

The announcement of Maldives’ politicians to resist Indian move has caused a stir in Indian policy circles, which are already struggling to find new opportunities in the Indian Ocean to compete with China.

The trio of Modi-Shah-Doval is exploring other notorious options as well to accomplish its strategic objectives.

Likewise, it should be noted that despite decades of close ties, the former Maldivian President Abdullah Yameen is in favor of scrapping all defense agreements with India.

He has alleged that India has greatly increased its military infrastructure in his island nation, which the current government denies.

The demands of the former president, who was ousted on corruption charges and remained in custody, have been well received by Maldivian people.

The large number of people re attending his Progressive Party meetings is strengthening his rhetoric. People are urging his party to take aggressive stance against possible Indian occupation.

It is pertinent to mention here that India’s growing military presence has not only posed a serious threat to its national security but has also hampered the development of Maldives.

Therefore, it is imperative that Indian Army be withdrawn from here by the end of this year.

The presence of Indian Army in Maldives will encourage other powers to increase their influence in the region.

Similarly, Maldives is of great importance to India in achieving its strategic goals in the Indian Ocean.

Rising anti-India sentiments, which have now gained a strong political voice, are becoming a major obstacle to its goals.

If former President gets political success in next general elections, it will be huge setback for Indian policymakers.

They are now investing heavily in Maldives’ pro-India politicians to get favorable policies and its strategic objectives.

By reaching out to its neighbors such as Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka, India actions seems similar to China’s so-called string of pearls strategy to increase its strategic pivot in the region.

But, the intentions of India are heinous. The fact is that India cannot invade or deploy its military in any other independent/ sovereign country.

As far as Chinse String of Pearls strategy is concerned, Beijing has been helping smaller nations to develop their economic model and state infrastructure.

It helped them in achieving economic growth and provided them economic assistance.

Recently, China helped Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives and Nepal. Likewise, it is seeking greater regional cooperation by through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Both China and Pakistan have offered regional as well as extra-regional powers to become part of CPEC for the economic uplift of the region.

It is also pertinent to mention here that the sole purpose of CPEC is greater economic integration and regional cooperation.

In Indian case, things are different and contrary to Chinese model. India is not looking for economic uplift of smaller nations.

It is looking for strategic depth and opportunities in the region which are purely regarding containment of its strategic rival China and Pakistan.

So, hawkish Indian intentions are threat to entire regional peace and need international attention.

If US and West are viewing Russia through occupational prism, they must also denounce Indian offensive strategic designs condemn them. The blatant Indian acts are direct threat to Nepal’s sovereignty as well.

International community must come forward this time around and stop India from using sovereign country to accomplish its strategic objectives, which aims at destabilizing regional peace.

— The writer is contributing columnist, based in Islamabad.


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